Love bout

Ghita Loebenstein on Bumping Heads

Brendan Shelper, Tina McErvale, Bumping Heads

Brendan Shelper, Tina McErvale, Bumping Heads

There is mind chatter in their bodies that aches to get out. It crawls their skins, making their hands snap at each other’s limbs. Snap and cling. Snap and cling. They pull together, a foot hooked in the crease of an arm, then fling away, discarded and banished.

Bumping Heads is a physical conversation between 2 people. Their words are confessional and passionate, violent and funny, possessive and intimate. Tina McErvale opens in a solitary arabesque, arms curved over body and leg pointed behind. She leaves and Brendan Shelper arrives, preening and punching the air, preparing us for the words he wishes to define himself with. She returns and coaxes her body into movement, quirky, supple and shy.

Then they are on the floor, rolling over one another, rolling through the curves of each other’s bodies. Hugging and clinging, never letting go. Giving caresses, taking them back and throwing them away. The soundtrack giggles, squeaks and foghorns, teasing the bodies and encouraging whimsical games. She flies through the air, taut, poised and balanced in delicate curves around him, through him, over him. She flies until she is literally standing in his hands-raised above his head. Don’t breathe. Let the chatter stop as the moment is held in a silent pose.

He is contorted, standing on his head. She strolls past obliviously, reading a magazine. What must we do to get the attention of the ones we wish to talk to? As an object of manipulation, she lets the magazine dance through her fingers and across her torso, flicking and patting it, until it too ‘speaks’. He steals it and taunts her, making it hover like a paper bird, full of things to say, until bang!… she shoots it dead.

They collapse into movement again to the romancing sounds of “Roxanne”. They repeat the same roll, throw, catch sequence, saying the same things again and again and again. “Come lie with me,” he says patting the ground next to him. She follows, they argue and she turns to leave. “I’m going,” she taunts, twisting horizontally through the air as he runs to catch her and bring her back home. Romance and games again and again, until he stops running after her and she falls flat on the floor from her elevated twist.

They tell us stories. They confess. She will give up cigarettes today. He remembers being hit in the face at school. He does what his body wants him to do and is made to laugh, cry, lie down. He is made to undress and fall in love with a beautiful body. It is hers. The same happens to her. His story is told through her body, manipulated through an omniscient voice. She undresses and runs around the playground, telling a remembered tale of playground love. She laughs, cries and lies down. “Tell me how beautiful I am,” the voice demands. And she does, almost naked and stripped of physical deception. It is him she tells this to.

They bump heads, colliding into each other in a sting of physical contact. Thinking the same thoughts, saying the same things, hearing the same sounds.

Back to words and humble caresses. As before they are on the floor, rolling over one another, rolling through the curves of each others bodies. Hugging and clinging, never letting go. They dance across one another, speaking in lithe, weightless tongues, their final words spoken in union and balance. He stands on her shoulders. A deafening pause. Don’t breathe. Let the chatter stop as the moment is held in a silent pose.

Bumping Heads, director/creator/performer Brendan Shelper, co-creator/performer Tina McErvale, Horti Hall , Next Wave, May 22-26.

RealTime-NextWave is part of the 2002 Next Wave Festival.

RealTime issue #49 June-July 2002 pg. 5

© Ghita Loebenstein; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 2002
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